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We shall overcome

Leisha McKinley-Beach

We shall overcome

By Leisha McKinley-Beach

      Our nation observed the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday yesterday as well as President Obama’s second inauguration. All over the country Dr. King’s speeches were repeated and referenced, including during the Inaugural Ceremony. Documentaries of his life aired, and street marches took place in his honor. It is very difficult to participate in a King observance and not hear the inspiring lyrics of the Negro spiritual, “We Shall Overcome.” The song symbolizes the fact that we have not reached equality; however, Dr. King and countless others believed that we would get there someday.

     In the HIV/AIDS movement great African-American leaders exist who hold true to the sentimentof the song: Mark Colomb, the now-deceased president and CEO of My Brother’s Keeper; Pernessa Seele, president and CEO of The Balm In Gilead; Ernest Hopkins, director of legislative affairs for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) and chair of the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition (NBGMAC); Greg Millett, former senior policy advisor in the White House Office of National AIDS Policy; and Ronald Henderson, statewide minority AIDS director at the Florida Department of Health; and Phill Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute; among them. These men and women, along with other leaders who are not mentioned here, have help create the blueprint for an exit strategy to end AIDS in Black America.

     As I participated in the Dr. King holiday celebration, I thought about the action it will take to move from strategy to implementation. Even in an era of some of the greatest scientific advances in HIV history as well as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the GREATESTprogress will come from individuals who believe we can end the AIDS epidemic and can mobilize others from awareness to action.

     Don’t pack up the outreach and community strategies just yet. These tools may not be our focus for HIV prevention, but they still provide the best ways to reach and mobilize communities. The Civil Rights Movement offers the finest example in U.S. history of efforts to successful mobilize communities. Let it inspire us. Because deep in my heart, I do believe we shall overcome HIV/AIDS someday.

     As we mark the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday and President Obama’s re-inauguration, we continue our two-part look at stories the Black AIDS Institute thinks will be important during 2013. Ambassador Eric Goosby wraps up PEPFAR’s 2012 activities, from providing antiretroviral treatment to more than 5 million people, to creating a blueprint for achieving an AIDS-free generation.

     Our friends Howard Koh, M.D., MPH, the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., MPH, deputy assistant secretary for health, infectious diseases, and director of the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, talk about the progress we’re making toward implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

     Our friends at identify 10 new media trends to watch during 2013. We share a compelling story from Colorlines about the inequity built into the fiscal cliff. And more…


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